A long time ago when I was young and stupid, my new friends at college decided that having a Mormon friend was fun and decided to name me “the Stormin’ Mormon.” This is about the world’s most unoriginal name for a Mormon, but I tried it out on various message boards because, like I said, I was young and stupid.
I quickly learned that the Internet does not like Mormons. 1 No matter where I went or what I wanted to talk about, I invariably attracted hordes of otherwise normal netizens2 who felt an inexplicable need to try and convince me that their dad had secret blueprints that revealed the upside down, subterranean pentagram beneath the Washington D.C. temple.3
I did the only sane, reasonable, mature thing: I immediately started using the nickname “theStorminMormon” absolutely everywhere I could. Steam handle? theStorminMormon Xbox Live handle? theStorminMormon. Back when I posted way, way too often on Slashdot? The very same. Skype username? Yeah, you guessed it. 4 It was just my little way of saying, “Don’t like Mormons? Well bring it on, Internet. Bring it.”
I’ve used it in so many different locations, that I’ve already got several variants worked out for places that don’t let me use all 16 characters. For 15 characters, I go with “theStormnMormon,” and for 12 just “storminMormon”.5
I’ve used it for so long that I often forget about it. A friend asked for my Steam account today and I had to go and check which variant I was using, which is what brought it to mind. Whenever I play Call of Duty online (which isn’t that often these days), I still never know if the random stranger who says “Hey, are you really Mormon?” is going to say “Cool, me too!” or ask me how many wives I have. It’s about a 50/50 split, in my experience.
I’m not the only stormin Mormon, of course. When I first started blogging many years ago there was a random girl studying accounting (I think) who blogged under that name at theStorminMormon.com. She shared way too much information for a while6, then seemed to get offended when I messaged her and asked if she was still using the domain. (It had been months since her last update.) I think she was like “how did this guy find out about me?” and I’m like “if you want to write a private journal… don’t use a top-level domain with no privacy settings at all.” I haven’t run into many more, but it’s still a name that’s often already taken when I show up late for a party.
And then I wonder: who else uses the name? Why did they pick it, and what are they up to? They must be drawing just as much fire as I used to. I wonder if they have the same motivation that I did. If someone mocked what they considered holy and they said, “Hell with this, now I’ve got to use the name.” 7
I don’t know, but I’d like to think so.
My tolerance for Internet flamewars is a lot lower than it used to be, so every now and then I shorten the nickname to just “stormin.” It’s a pretty simple way to avoid being badgered by random strangers about my religion. But as long as I know that badgering is occuring, I sort of feel like I’m not doing my duty if I don’t make sure some of it comes my way. It’s probably silly, and I’ve got minimal interest in antagonizing the Internet these days, but I’m never going to stop being proud of who I am and where I come from. Insisting on the same, corny nickname might not be the most sophisticated way to express the sentiment, but I guess maybe I’m just not that sophisticated of a guy. So, for now anyways, I’m sort of stuck with it.